Specialty Locks for Special Applications

Aug. 3, 2015
Utility locks come in many configurations for specific residential and commercial uses. The level of security and convenience are the main consideration when purchasing utility locks.

Utility locks are an auxiliary lock. They can be pin tumbler, wafer tumbler, tubular, disk tumbler, magnetic and electromechanical locks that secure everything that does not use conventional door locks or padlocks. Most utility locks contain a smaller format lock cylinder that can be incorporated into different locking functions.

The first pin tumbler door lock was patented by Linus Yale Jr. in 1865. The first wafer tumbler lock patent, Patent #76,066, was awarded to Filo Felter of Cincinnatus, NY, in 1868. The patent was entitled "Improvement in Door-Locks." This single bitted lock uses a flat steel key blade to operate flat wafers. The double bitted wafer tumbler lock was patented in 1913 by Emil Chistroph. In 1915, Briggs & Stratton incorporated wafer tumbler locks into automotive locks. Additionally, Briggs & Stratton incorporated Yale & Towne locks into their vehicle lock offerings. Automotive and electric company locks were a significant percentage of the early utility locks.

As the evolution of the pin tumbler lock replaced the warded (skeleton key and flat steel key) locks, wafer tumbler utility locks replaced some of the more expensive pin tumbler locks of the day that were provided by the early lock manufacturers. Early wafer lock keys were called "feather keys" because they were significantly lighter.

Today, there are many different types of utility locks, including mechanical, magnetic, electromechanical and high security. Utility locks now use commercial keyways and interchangeable cores, eliminating the need to carry additional keys and to incorporate the key into a master key system.

There are a significant number of keying choices. They range from the very common keyed locks including the 54G keyway, which provides the opportunity to order utility locks that are keyed into existing key systems. These four-, five- or six-wafer tumbler utility locks are available as cabinet, cam, drawer, gate, sliding door, showcase, switch, threaded shaft, trailer, etc., in metal and wood configurations. In addition to the 54G keyway, there are the 54A, 54B, 54C and the 54E keyways, plus the 54G master key.

They are available from many wafer cam lock manufacturers including CCL, CompX Fort, ESP, Hudson, Kaba Ilco, Kenstan and Lori. Not every lock manufacturer uses the same spaces, depths, first cut from shoulder or Cut-to-Cut (CTC). For example, the CCL start is .156", CompX Fort uses .130" and Yale uses .125".

The CCL and Fort 54G keyway wafer cam lock depths are:

1-.250"      2-.235"      3-.220"      4-.205"      5-.190"

The depth increment is .015".

Cam Lock Evolution

Basic cam locks have gone through a number of changes to provide greater functionality. These include open keyway to accommodate more than one key blank blade configurations, cam locks with spun-on cams, lazy cams, spring loaded slam cams and weather resistant cam locks.

Adapters enable the cam lock to operate with a spring-loaded latch mechanism. For most applications, it is easier to shut the door by retracting the latch mechanism than by using the key to rotate the cam from the open position to the locked position once the door has been closed. Once the spring-loaded latch mechanism is past the drawer or doorframe, the latch extends. To open the door or drawer, insert the key and rotate the cylinder retracting the SlamCam latch to permit the door or drawer to open.

CompX Security Products has introduced the SlamCam spring-loaded latch mechanism cam lock. The SlamCam mechanism converts National cam locks, part number C8051 through C8075, into self-locking drawer and cabinet door locks. The SlamCam mechanism, part number C7017, is designed to slide onto the rear of the standard CompX National cam locks replacing the cam and screw. Once the SlamCam is in place, use the provided screw to secure the unit. The screw is threaded into the cam hole in the plug.

Because of the different environments, CompX Fort introduced the Dust Shutter Cam Lock for applications that are exposed to weather, dust, etc.  The stainless steel face cap has the RoHS compliant X33 finish. The five-disc tumbler cam locks are available in two lengths, 5/8" and 7/8".

Going beyond the basic single bitted utility locks, doubled bitted, small diameter pin tumbler, tubular, high security and commercial keyways include interchangeable core configured utility locks. Commercial lock and interchangeable core utility locks are available from Best Lock and Olympus Lock, who manufactures utility locks that accommodate Best, Corbin Russwin, Medeco, Sargent, Schlage and Yale conventional lock cylinders, and full-size and small format interchangeable cores.

Small diameter pin tumbler utility locks were introduced by CCL using the R1 keyway are .095" diameter ball end pins, National Lock using the D4291/D4292 keyway and the .101" diameter pins and other lock companies. As a comparison, the conventional pin tumbler diameter is .115". 

Olympus MRI Series cabinet locks are constructed of non-ferrous metal materials for use in rooms where nuclear medicine (radioactive substances) are used for diagnosis and treatment.  The 100M Door and 200M Drawer Locks meet or exceed ANSI/BHMA A156.11 Grade 1. They are equipped the N Series National keyway using five pin tumbler solid brass removable lock cylinders and non-magnetic bar strikes. They have 15/16" or 1-3/8" barrel length. The barrel diameter is 7/8". They are available with optional key retaining, where the key is removable only in the locked position. Handing must be specified for key-retaining function. For facilities using the CCL R1 keyway, the MRI Series are available as the 500M Door and 600M Drawer Locks.

A specialty utility lock is the Olympus 723 Series Sliding Door Cylinder Housing. This small format interchangeable core lock is designed to secure cabinet and showcase sliding doors using just the housing and a special design seven-pin core. The housing is secured to the glass and a special interchangeable core provides the locking mechanism. The control key acts as the operating key in this lock. When ordering the core for this 723 lock, you must specify the keyway. This enables all of the 723 Sliding Door Locks to be incorporated into small format masterkey systems.

High Security Utility Locks

High security utility lock manufacturers include ASSA, Abloy, BiLock, Illinois, Medeco, Mul-T-Lock and FJM Security's Pagoda. High security utility locks are available using the manufacturers' conventional key blanks and some are available using utility key blanks while providing high security protection. Additionally, Medeco offers the cam locks in different lengths. To accommodate a 5/8" cam lock, Medeco equips the lock with three pin chambers. The 1-1/8" model has five pin chambers.

BiLock Retail Loss Prevention Locks are available as cabinet, drawer, showcase and cage locks that contain the BiLock 12-pin chamber, two- sided bar locking mechanism. This system has a keying capability of more than 11 million unique key combinations per keyway. A master key system has over 500,000 changes.

Illinois Lock Company Duo mechanism cam locks offer over 14,000 combinations  for a high security die cast cam lock. These locks are equipped with a stainless steel head and body guides to resist drilling attacks. The stainless steel head ring provides pull resistance.


Electromechanical utility locks are available as integrated locks and component-based configurations using pin style locks and electromagnetic locksExamples of component-based electromechanical locks include electromagnetic locks with a couple of hundred pound holding force or split strike cabinet locks that secure double door cabinets. The Securitron MCL has 200-pound holding force built into 4-5/8" long by ¾" deep by 1-1/8" height.

HES offers the 610 and 660 Series electromechanical surface-mounted locks for drawers or cabinets. The 610 Series is compact, 12/24 VAC/VDC field selectable pin style electromechanical lock that is 2" long by 25/32" deep by 1-3/4" height. The holding force is 200 pounds and is available with locked state monitoring. The patented, HES 660 Series has a static strength of 1,000 pounds. The Fail-Safe/Fail Secure lock is surface mounted, operating on either 12 or 24VDC. The preload version can accommodate up to 15 pounds. Due to the low power draw, the 660 is PoE friendly and can be ordered with the LBSM "Locked State" Monitoring.

The need to improve security for data cabinets is being met with cabinet/rack handle locks where the locking mechanism secures the handle into the base. Rutherford Controls Inc. (RCI) 3525/3525PRX electromechanical Rack Handle Locks offer remote lock and unlock control with single or multipoint locking. Integrated sensors detect lock and handle status for monitoring and alarm functions. These locks are equipped with a high security DIN lock for mechanical override. The RCI 3525PRX has a 125kHz HID reader that recognizes RFID prox cards.

Electromechanical integrated lock manufacturers include CodeLocks, CompX and Kaba.  The CodeLocks Nano 90 is an integrated 12-button electromechanical keypad lock designed for small lockers and furniture drawers. The utility lock has four code levels: an eight-digit master code, eight-digit sub-master code, four-digit user code and six-digit technician code. The coin battery provides up to 100,000 openings. Its low battery warning LED on the front flashes red to indicate time to change. In the event of a dead battery, external contacts accommodate a PP3 battery. The external dimensions are 3-9/16" by 1-3/16".

The Nano 90 has two operating functions, private and public. The private (default) function is used where the same code will be used by the same person. The public code is a one-time use code where the person places their possessions into the container and closes the door. The person enters the code to retrieve their possessions and the lock remains unlocked until the next code is entered.

The CodeLocks KL1000 NetCode (NC) is an integrated 10-digit keypad operated utility lock designed for temporary access to lockers and cabinets via the web-based NetCode Portal using time-sensitive codes. The generated four digit user codes can be sent using email or SMS to any email account. The CodeLocks KL1000NC retrofits standard cam lock (Double D) door prep. Two AAA batteries provide up to 15,000 operations.

CompX RegulatoR battery powered, electromechanical 10-digit keypad pushbutton cabinet door locks have a user code and a supervisor code, each four to eight digits in length. RegulatoR Locks are available in two configurations, manual and self locking. The self locking SlamCAM has a spring loaded latch mechanism, which retracts when the door is pushed to the closed position. The latch mechanism extends automatically one the lock is locked.

RegulatoR Locks are handed. They are designed to fit into a ¾" Double D cam lock opening. Sold in three barrel lengths; 7/16", 1-3/16" and 1-3/4". Included in the packaging are spacers provided to accommodate wood and metal cabinet door and drawers. RegulatoR Locks use CompX National cams with FlexaCam. These locks operate using two AAA batteries that provide a 50,000 plus operations. The battery compartment is accessible from the outside of the cabinet. A low battery indicator notifies when the batteries need to be replaced. The battery compartment is accessible from outside of the cabinet.

Kaba E-Plex 5x90 Server Cabinet Locks are integrated electronic pushbutton card-based locks with dual credential capability. The 5x90 has a standalone capability of up to 300 users in LearnLok mode. These locks use existing door locking hardware including cam and/or locking bar. These non-handed locks are equipped with key override using a key-in-lever lock cylinder.

Electronic Utility Locks

Electronic utility locks are available from Cyber Lock, Medeco XT and CLIQ Electronic Cam lock cylinders require no wiring to the door and are powered by a rechargeable key. The ASSA Abloy CLIQ provides audit trail, user access schedules and the ability to quickly add or remove a key electronically from a system.

Although not a utility lock by the definition, the CompX Timberline Double Door Latch is designed to control the movement of the inactive door of a pair of cabinet doors. It eliminates the need for a secondary locking mechanism such as an elbow catch, or other device through the movement of the active door. The double door latch is positioned in proximity to the inactive door lock cam. When the active door is closed, the extended latch end slides into the catch mounted on the inactive door, securing the inactive door and preventing it from opening. When the active door is opened, the latch end retracts from the catch, permitting the inactive door to be opened. The CompX Timberline Double Door Latch is available in white and black finishes and a top mount kit and a bottom mount kit for right hand and left hand active doors.


For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or the following utility lock manufacturers:

  • ASSA: www.abloy.com
  • CCL: www.cclsecurity.com
  • CodeLocks: www.codelocks.us
  • CompX: www.compx.com
  • CyberLock: www.cyberlock.com
  • ESP/Hudson: www.hudsonlock.com
  • FJM Security: www.fjmsecurity.com
  • Illinois Lock: www.illinoislock.com
  • Kaba Ilco: www.kaba-ilco.com
  • Kenstan: www.kenstan.com
  • Medeco: www.medeco.com
  • Olympus Lock: www.olympus-lock.com
  • Rutherford Controls Inc. (RCI): www.rutherfordcontrols.com
  • Securitron Magnalock Corp.: www.securitron.com